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Paul Groff

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Everything posted by Paul Groff

  1. Hi Stuart, A point to consider. Many of the Jeffries and Crabb anglos being played today have been re-worked into equal temperament. Where the original instruments may have had duplicate enharmonics (for example, separate reeds for D# and Eb in a C/G system instrument), these duplicate reeds are sometimes retuned to other notes. Specifically, the "typical modern" location for a low Bb (on a C/G instrument) was often originally the home of a reed to sound D# on the early Jeffries and Crabb anglos. Since Eb is right next door, also on the draw, if such an instrument is re-tuned to equal temperament that D# note is often retuned to a low C# draw or replaced with a low Bb. On the early Jeffries and Crabb anglos in original condition, that low Bb would typically only be found on anglos with more than 30 keys, and located on the draw on the index-finger C row extra button (paired with Bb press an octave higher). PG
  2. Thanks for posting this Geoff, but a friend in France tells me that this listing is not genuine.
  3. See attached, I hope it is understandable Crossed levers 31 button Crabb Anglo.doc Geoffrey Thanks a lot Geoffrey, that's very clear and understandable Adrian Hi Adrian, Geoff, and all, It's always a great honor to all readers (present and future) when Geoff takes the time to join these discussions! Thanks Geoff for all the invaluable information and wisdom you share! Just as an addendum to Geoff's contribution, I have seen 20th-century 31-key H. Crabb anglos with a different LH lever arrangement than shown in Geoff's drawing (and I know he has seen those as well). I looked for the forum discussion in which we talked about them, but didn't find that discussion. However, the search retrieved this article in which Geoff is quoted, so I know that he has seen this type of lever design also. Note the lack of overlapping levers and the serpentine curvature of one lever in particular: http://www.concertina.net/mws_inside_a_crabb.html In my opinion, this arrangement of levers (and the entire design of the action and the reedpans) may have been intended as a compromise with these goals in mind: 1) Bring up the volume of the notes sounded by the index finger button on the LH inside row (these would be D / E on a typical C/G anglo). 2) (possibly) Avoid crossed levers of the older design, that can lead to interferance when sounding the LH thumb button simultaneously with the top button of the outside row. In my own opinion, goal number 1 may have been most important. In some more common designs for the action of a 31-key anglo, the notes from that D/E button can be muted. Those are the smallest reeds on the left side of a typical 31-key anglo, and they are sometimes situated in a position in which their volume is muted further by the handrail, fretwork design, and player's hand. But the anglos designed like Mark Stayton's H. Crabb (and similar ones that I've seen) have a very bright, clear sound from the D/E button. However, 2) may have been a factor stimulating the layout of these non-overlapping lever designs. I can usually set up the action of a 31-key anglo that has crossed levers to avoid any lever interference, by careful attention to pad heights and damper thicknesses. But my own preferences are for lots of pad lift and lots of button travel, so that when I optimize the action of an old 31-key anglo for the sound and feel that I prefer, I do sometimes get a slight contact of levers when I use the thumb key simultaneously with the G#/Bb key (top button, outside row). PG
  4. Hi Adrian, Geoff, and all, It's always a great honor to all readers (present and future) when Geoff takes the time to join these discussions! Thanks Geoff for all the invaluable information and wisdom you share! Just as an addendum to Geoff's contribution, I have seen 20th-century 31-key H. Crabb anglos with a different LH lever arrangement than shown in Geoff's drawing (and I know he has seen those as well). I looked for the forum discussion in which we talked about them, but didn't find that discussion. However, the search retrieved this article in which Geoff is quoted, so I know that he has seen this type of lever design also. Note the lack of overlapping levers and the serpentine curvature of one lever in particular: http://www.concertina.net/mws_inside_a_crabb.html In my opinion, this arrangement of levers (and the entire design of the action and the reedpans) may have been intended as a compromise with these goals in mind: 1) Bring up the volume of the notes sounded by the index finger button on the LH inside row (these would be D / E on a typical C/G anglo). 2) (possibly) Avoid crossed levers of the older design, that can lead to interferance when sounding the LH thumb button simultaneously with the top button of the outside row. In my own opinion, goal number 1 may have been most important. In some more common designs for the action of a 31-key anglo, the notes from that D/E button can be muted. Those are the smallest reeds on the left side of a typical 31-key anglo, and they are sometimes situated in a position in which their volume is muted further by the handrail, fretwork design, and player's hand. But the anglos designed like Mark Stayton's H. Crabb (and similar ones that I've seen) have a very bright, clear sound from the D/E button. However, 2) may have been a factor stimulating the layout of these non-overlapping lever designs. I can usually set up the action of a 31-key anglo that has crossed levers to avoid any lever interference, by careful attention to pad heights and damper thicknesses. But my own preferences are for lots of pad lift and lots of button travel, so that when I optimize the action of an old 31-key anglo for the sound and feel that I prefer, I do sometimes get a slight contact of levers when I use the thumb key simultaneously with the G#/Bb key (top button, outside row). PG
  5. Both are definitely Jones, I've seen quite a few examples of the same model. Nothing about them is inconsistent with this model of Jones anglo -- the layout of button locations, left thumb buttons, fretwork, air valve, woods, bellows stampings, reed sizes, levers etc etc. They are a little big but they have a great sound when they're going well!
  6. I'd be interested in learning more about that octave-tuned D/A! This is a great system that I play myself. I had a nice octave tuned German D/A but passed it along to a student. Can Labuschagne make one with an extra button or two (21 or 22 buttons plus the air key)? Thanks, Paul Groff
  7. Well, not so cheap, quick & dirty, but the way I would want to see this done would be to commission a concertina maker to make a new set of reedpans, to match the pad/hole positions of the original action case, to fit the original bellows frames and with reedslots designed to fit the original reeds without altering the reedframes. You might have to start with two instruments as inventor mentioned. *If* a workable reedpan could be designed that meets those criteria, then with careful notes and photos of the original condition you could have a fully reversible conversion, comparable to the banjo players who have a new 5 string neck made for a tenor banjo, but keep all original parts. If the original reedpans and reedframes were not altered, you could then return the original concertina(s) to original configuration at a later date. Your converted duet would still have the original layout of button positions on the ends, which as inventor points out may not be ideal. You would also have the substantial cost of making reedpans. Your maker might have to be very clever to accommodate all the right sizes of reeds in chambers positioned in the right places, to lie under the padholes for the appropriate buttons. But there are old and new tricks in laying out reedpans -- for example, as seen by the Dippers' innovative designs and also those that the early Jones instruments used in setting parallel reed chambers on a diagonal for the left side. This is just a speculation. But if I wanted a Hayden duet, and if I wanted to benefit in an ethical way from the quality -- and the parts value -- that are latent in the many underpriced unrestored unpopular duet system concertinas . . . this would be the first strategy that I would try. PG
  8. From the label, this concertina may have accompanied Scates (or been sent to him) during his first visit to Ireland in 1850, so it appears to be among very few concertinas with evidence of such an early arrival in Ireland. Somewhere in storage I have a Scates english with the same label, but a later serial number and much different fretwork, similar to some Wheatstones. Mine has Scates' own annotations and signature inside in several places. Mine also has ivory buttons, as did many of the very early english concertinas from the 19th century. It's great that this very historic concertina is for sale in Ireland, and I hope a serious student, collector, or museum is able to purchase it and retain it there -- especially since transporting ivory across international borders, or even possessing it, has become increasingly restricted. PG
  9. Hi Gary, Thanks for reprising that great photo. It was published years ago in one of the concertina magazines . . . but haven't you guys also seen the film footage? Click on the link, play the video (evidently no charge to stream), and watch especially from 00:26. Too bad it's silent. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675041811_Armistice-Day_United-States-flags_huge-crowd_musical-instruments PG
  10. "Viva" the Crabb Victor . . . vs the Vauxhall Victor or Vauxhall Viva for that matter?
  11. Hi Gary, Apologies for bringing up such an old thread. Possibly your questions from 2004 have been answered. However, I'm currently researching Louis Miller and may have some relevant information for you about him, if still of interest. Do you still have the concertinas? First, here's a (poorly) digitized reference on the early years of the musical instrument trades in San Francisco: http://www.archive.org/stream/musicaltrade185000unit/musicaltrade185000unit_djvu.txt Louis Miller is discussed under accordions (which he manufactured; the dates are usually given as ca.1883 - 1917). In that paper, you'll see a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 12, 1898, which reads in part: "Owing to the weight of a concert accordion it is a difficult instrument for a lady to manipulate and he is now planning a lady's concertina with a perfect chromatic scale." As you know, in the mid-late 1800s there were many different free-reed keyboard designs invented, many motivated by this same desire to increase chromaticism in a small instrument. Concertinas were known in San Francisco of course, including english-made instruments. Miller seems to have been preceded in San Francisco as an accordion maker by C. C. Keene, who is said to have made concertinas, flutinas, accordions, etc. from the 1860s. In the 1980s, I found examples of nice London concertinas from 1850 - 1870s, surfacing in San Francisco after having been there for many decades, and concertinas are known with shop labels specifying San Francisco addresses that disappeared with the 1906 earthquake. When I lived in Berkeley in the 1980s, one of my concertina students had an ancient "concertina foot bass" that had been made in San Francisco around the turn of the century, but I don't recall if it was made by Miller or another shop. BTW, I have several successive addresses for Miller now, subsequent to the one he wrote in the concertinas you mention. But the 1906 earthquake and fire drastically changed the map of the city, long before the changes Jim noticed in his own lifetime. At any rate, it's great to have your documentation that Louis Miller worked on (and possibly ?? experimented with the layout of ) English-made concertinas in the late 1890s. Later, ca 1902 - 1906, he seems to have made a series of interesting small accordions such as those discussed here (note that you may need to register and login to melodeon.net to see all the photos posted): http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5536 http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5706.msg171157.html#msg171157 I'll be developing a database of Miller's instruments (often dated internally), their specifications and addresses, and photos where available. It might be good to include instruments that he repaired and modified as well. Thanks for any insights that you (or others) can add. Edited to add: see this new thread on Louis Miller's accordions (mostly): http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,14968.0.html Paul Groff Miami, Florida, USA groffco at gmail dot com
  12. Hi Stuart, Great stuff. Thanks again for your work with the concertina. Paul Groff
  13. Now we're talking! An excellent paper, and properly focused. Leaving aside various minor issues that could be disputed, I'd like to point out two great virtues of this work. 1) Documented history 2) A very broad understanding of different options for tuning and tempering the scales of fixed-pitch musical instruments. There are more tunings in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of most concertina players. Some of the old tunings (despite being perceived by many today as "out of tune according to my meter or my ear" ) were very consciously chosen to enable powerful musical effects if properly employed. Jim, years ago I remember having to convince you that the duplicate keys for D#/Eb and G#/Ab were originally included in what became the standard keyboard of the english concertina *because those duplicate keys were intended to sound reeds tuned to different pitches.* That idea was not original to me of course; I was reading about Wheatstone's 14-tone meantone scale in Montague and other 20th century works at the same time I was looking at concertinas with original tuning. Now that concept to understand the english concertina keyboard is a commonplace in discussions by modern amateurs and I'm reading concertina players and tuners throw around the names of mean-tone temperaments. But I hope Gawboy's article will help players and students of the instrument understand that there's more to concertina tuning beyond equal temperament and some familiar variations of mean-tone. The conception of the concertina pioneers (early inventors, improvers, and tuners) went far beyond superimposing one or another standard scale on a new kind of noisemaker. They were striving for new options that the new instrument might allow -- through different experiments in compromising layout, button number, size, many variables of sound production and assigning pitches -- all with a goal toward flexible, beautiful, and powerful sounds (especially harmonized sounds). PG
  14. Chris, Except for the E/G# buttons on each side, the layout is what you would expect from the top 4 buttons on each side of the middle row + the outside row of a 30-key, 3-row D/A anglo in Wheatstone layout. Thus, imagine a 30 key anglo concertina with no "inside row." For simplicity's sake you can imagine that it's a C/G. If you can play settings of tunes using the C row + accidental row of a Wheatstone-layout C/G concertina, many of those settings will finger similarly on the 2 rows of this miniature (but transposed up a step, or more likely here a step plus an octave). On a 30-key C/G anglo, the F# note tends to be the one note that's only found on the G row. Transposed up a step, that F# becomes G#. Places were found for that note, in 2 octaves, on the draw on the outermost buttons of the outside row of this miniature. The 2 octaves of E on that outside row are duplicates of the notes on the main D row, in reversed bellows directions. A clever system to maximize the fully chromatic range of a small instrument, while still overlapping with part of a familiar anglo layout. To make a miniature feel more familiar for many traditional styles of music, some players might prefer instead to have a different subset of the layout of the traditional anglo included -- to have more of the two inside rows (the C and G rows of a C/G, or the D and A rows of a D/A) available -- but that would result in more duplicate notes and less chromatic range. Either way makes perfect sense depending on the player and his or her intended use of the instrument. PG
  15. Hi Dirge and all, A third way forward would be the most conservative of all. First try to swap as many of the existing reeds into their new locations as will transfer without any filing to the reeds or alterations to the slots. You might find that some of the swaps are easy. Then for the remainder needed, get some spare reeds and fit those into the new slots. Retain any of the original reeds that are left over, and keep them (along with detailed notes) with the concertina. That way your conversion is 100% reversible, with no material removed from the reedpans or from any of the original reeds. Looks like the most you would need would be 14 reeds in frames, and maybe fewer. That's what I would recommend for extremely valuable and original instruments. It does involve the expense of acquiring the spare reeds, but those might be found from a repairman who has crashed, unrepairable concertinas. PG
  16. Apologies to Squeezecat if this thread drift is seen as distracting, but evidently wayman's curiosity in purchasing the concertina is piqued, so maybe this is a good thing. Wayman, while this instrument is for sale by Theo Gibb I'm sure you can get as well-informed and honest an evaluation of its condition as any seller could provide from a distance. Looks nice to me from here! The larger metal buttons are typical for this time period. If I'm not mistaken, the pics posted by Squeezecat actually show the levers and pad for the LH thumb button and for the top button of the LH inside row. Look through the fretwork. To me it looks as Jim describes his example, that there are separate levers and pads operated by two buttons, and that the pads are very closely aligned (so likely to open on the same rectangular chamber in the interior of the reedpan). If I get a chance later I'll take and post a pic or two of an earlier 4 row Jeffries with the birdcall rather than double - keyed reeds (not for sale and so not competing with Squeezecat's beauty), to show how the levers, pads, birdcall, and reedpans are laid out in that example. PG edite to add: OK, here are those pics. Not Squeezecat's instrument, but an earlier example not for sale:
  17. I don't know that particular instrument, but I have a similar 45-button C/G (which I should be posting for sale) and had a 45-button G/D, and both have the LH "drone" (thumb) button opening on the same chamber as a button in the fourth row. Different levers and pads, but the same chamber, hence the duplication. On my C/G, it's not a true drone, but F/C. I believe there's a discussion of this "feature" in an earlier thread, but I haven't time to look for it right now. Maybe in a few days. Hi all, I agree Jim has likely identified what's going on here, with a slight addition as noted below. Of course, without a photo of the reedpan we don't know whether this concertina has two buttons that allow air through the same chamber in the reedpan, but like Jim I have seen that design multiple times in the 4-row Jeffries anglos. First, re: the notes present. On C/G anglos with a thumb button for the left hand, the C/C and F/C alternatives seem often to have been available as options for the first owner, or even interchanged later. Second, the reason those same press/draw notes are available from two different buttons: On some of the 4-row Jeffries I've seen there is this single chamber in the reedpan for those notes with two buttons to allow air into it, the LH thumb button and a button for the LH index finger on the inside row. I think one possible reason for this can be seen in some of the earlier 4-row instruments where that same inside row LH button for the index finger operates a bird whistle (novelty sound effect). This requires only a tiny hole and chamber in the reedpan, too small for another 2 reeds. If the player preferred to have the buttons sound "only notes, no novelty sound effects" as sometimes players do, one way to achieve that with minimum disruption of the pre-existing reedpan and action design would have been to provide dual access to that chamber already assigned to the LH thumb button. This double option to access those same reeds might also have some utility in fingering, especially for players who don't have good mobility/independence for their left thumb. PG
  18. Another way to go is to take regular lessons with the right teacher. Especially if you can find one who has a few other students with whom you might play the same beginner's tunes at a suitable tempo, and who may lead a session or two. A lot of adults overestimate the success rate of DIY music learning. The right teacher can guide students to solve problems such as you are having, and can help students integrate into group playing, by noticing and assigning a practice routine to correct all the issues you have mentioned (and maybe others of which you are unaware). This kind of help -- sort of like teaching someone a language -- is a lot of work and takes a lot of experience on the part of the teacher. Similarly, integrating newcomers (although very rewarding) can demand a lot of patience on the part of more experienced players in a session, which can be one reason that pro musicians and teachers and session anchors earn their modest pay. There's nothing wrong with a bunch of friends having fun together, but when it isn't working for the group, or for a newcomer, or for the audience or the proprietor of the place where the session happens, then sometimes professional help may be needed. PG
  19. Hi Dan, Well it figures that a historian would have the documentary evidence. Great to see Tommy senior looking so young (even if possibly feeling the effects of a night's rambling, may he rest in peace), yourself, Jim, Sandra, and Amanda Lacy who first loaned me a concertina to play. I remember the first day of the class was taken by Tony Crehan (R.I.P.) because Tommy had not yet arrived. I had been playing concertina just since January that year (1985), which is now more than half my life ago. I was a Fulbright fellow in North Wales that year so Ireland was close; unfortunately I was never able to make it back to Ireland for Willie Clancy week but that one was memorable. I did meet Tommy often in Boston in later years, and Tony too on his one trip to the US. As I alluded in the post above, I remember both Tony and Tommy teaching mostly tunes in lovely old style that sit comfortably on only 2 rows of the anglo. Of course, both did also use the C# in other tunes. Thanks again Dan and keep up the good work. PG
  20. Dan, Thanks. I really admire this project. I love what you wrote here. I'm not Irish myself and even if I were, I wouldn't want to pass judgment on where the living tradition of Irish concertina music is going. But as someone drawn into the music for decades now and sometimes asked by members of that community to teach beginners on the concertina, I have loved the older tradition of the german concertina music (and of the early players of the anglo-german instruments who only used 2 rows). It's brilliant music in its own right, it forms a core that informs the more modern 3-row anglo styles, and IMO success in that older style may be more accessible to many beginners, especially adult beginners -- in part because a much less expensive instrument can be used (with proper guidance in choosing it and in learning the style). Taking further your point about different styles of music for home dancing versus a session of fast reels, I often compare the german-concertina music, and the basically "2-row concertina styles" (though often played on 3-row anglos) of musicians like Mrs. Crotty and John Kelly, to the 1-row melodeon styles that have made such a resurgence in recent years (2 row concertinas and 1-row melodeons are alike in having their own Irish repertoire that accommodates their "missing notes"- compared to more "complete" 3 row concertinas and 2-row button accordions ). Sure the modern styles of anglo playing are wonderful and they inspire and challenge me, too. But the 2-row concertina styles deserve great respect -- and with a little accommodation from other players (and a relaxing of the compulsion some players feel to play every tune), a 20 key concertina of good quality can work great even in a session, just as we see with 1-row melodeons. Of course Dan, our teachers Tony Crehan and Tommy McCarthy senior (may they rest in peace), and our classmate Jim McArdle from the long-ago year that I met you knew all this very well. :-) PG
  21. Hi Mike, Congratulations! Most here would hope this beautiful concertina can be kept in your family and that one of you will learn to play it. However, many here might also like to own it themselves if it does come up for sale. This is potentially a very valuable instrument, although I think the market has been down from its peak in the past couple years. A proper restoration may not be cheap, depending on the condition of hundreds of internal parts. Interesting that I don't see a lever for the right-hand air button, looking through the hole for it -- that may just be the angle or lighting, but could indicate that the button is not merely missing or dislodged. Also, some small screws for the button-bushing-board are gone so someone has been inside this. If each button gives (more or less) the same note whether expanding or compressing the bellows, this is a "duet" concertina. If the pitch of the notes changes when changing bellows direction, it is an "anglo chromatic" or "anglo" concertina and maybe more valuable in that case. Greg Jowaisas, the Button Box, or (ahem) I would be able to give this instrument a full appraisal and restoration estimate here in the US. You can see a couple of Jeffries listed for sale on the Button Box website, but bear in mind 1) those are retail "asking" prices; those instruments have not found buyers at those prices, so far, after being offered for some time; 2) instruments sold by private parties usually command lower prices; 3) instruments sold before restoration often sell at a very great discount, reflecting the large cost, uncertainty, hassle, and substantial waiting time to restore them. However, that doesn't mean you necessarily want to get this restored yourself before offering it for sale, because different buyers can have different preferences about who restores a concertina, and how. In fact, some potential buyers have a special interest in seeing and studying these instruments before they are restored. Some details of their original construction and subsequent history can only be learned by seeing them before a typical restoration. Good luck with this adventure! I have a feeling you are about to learn a lot about concertinas, whether or not you plan to play yourself. Paul Groff
  22. Hi John and all, I remember seeing this episode years ago, and I think that's the meaning of the two values given at the end -- one for 1998 and one for 2013. PG
  23. In his own right, from 1860 to his death in December 1903. Previously he undertook work for Lachenal then joined Nickolds (Nickolds,Crabb & Co.) He was joined by his son, Henry Thomas Crabb, in 1870. The stamp, 'J Crabb, Maker' was still used on some concertinas upto 1908 (circa Instrument No. 8750) when the business name changed to 'H Crabb, Concertina Maker' and new stamps made.' (H Crabb, may appear in hand engraved form on some instruments during the period 1903-1908). Geoffrey Thanks Geoffrey, It's always very interesting to hear your most current understanding of concertina history! I appreciate it. When attributing a concertina to "John Crabb," to me that means it has his maker's stamp and that tends to correlate with the other characteristics I mentioned (at least for the metal-ended anglos). . . unfortunately, not always with a serial number. But it's good to keep in mind that we might best be agnostic about the actual person or people who crafted the instrument, since Henry Thomas and others seem to have been involved from the second decade of John's independent workshop. PG
  24. Hi Ross, The Rushworth & Dreaper Crabb that I used for a number of years, and that was owned at various times by a few of my students and customers, was a very comfortable and great-sounding instrument (at least, when last I saw it). I don't have concertina records on my computer, or handy here, but if memory serves it was not labeled John Crabb Maker, but had a Crabb serial number suggesting it was made by a later generation of the family. I did own and pass along a few John Crabb anglos over the years, recognizable by some details in the fretwork, reeds, woodwork, and action, and a somewhat concealed maker's stamp on the *underside* (action side) of the right-hand fretwork. All of them sounded exceptionally rich, warm, and full. Some of these were stamped "Ball Beavon & Co. London" on the outside woodwork. The one I still own, still on what I believe are the original thick-fold bellows, still in original pitch, and in my restored-estimate of its original temperament, is # 8075. PG
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